Saturday, January 26, 2008

DELHI - An Ode

I’m not very observant as a person and I take ages to formulate an opinion on anything, it’s therefore a little presumptuous on my part to attempt an ode to anything. Anyway as you’ll see the following post is more…trip down memory lane than ode. So here goes,

So I was in Delhi last week and yesterday before I flew into Manali where I write this, and I will be in Delhi extensively over most of next month and this makes me very happy. For starters because Debs and Ro are back in Delhi!! And secondly because it’s like 12 degrees there and I louses weather like that. But most importantly because Delhi is like my Paris. Some of the most cherished moments of my life have ensued in the wintry climes of our great capital city and for me and a certain someone from my past ‘We’ll always have Delhi’.

For a city in which I haven’t spent over 20 days at a stretch and then visited it very sporadically for day trips on work, I have a lot of location based memories. As I traveled from the airport to my meeting in Saket, I passed most of the sites. That Barista Lavazza place opposite IIT gate where a random aunt of mine had seen me with the boy and that very evening I had this big call from home where my mother was pissed because the said relative in question had called my mother and snidely remarked that I was hanging out with ‘a boy’ and what sort of values has she instilled in me. See this is why all relatives should be made to stand in an open ground and we should spray agent orange on them. Then the Golden Dragon place near that big flyover before taking a right to Panchsheel Park (sorry this is my sorry state of geographical mnemonics when it comes to Delhi). So this Golden Dragon place was like our favorite place in the world, and by our I mean about 13 of us who were in Delhi shooting a film about four years ago. It was right next to our hotel – the great HAMILTON hotel of Panchsheel Park – A rundown, quaint, straight out of Great Expectations sort of 3 star joint that came with old quirky menacing staff, an ivy covered entrance and walkway with fake snakes and yes, ‘GUITARS’ hanging from the trellis and suddenly many many stone fountains randomly placed in the so called lobby that also had an out of place gimungous leather sofa.

Once inside it got worse. The rooms were named. Yes Named. I stayed in ‘princess’, my adjacent rooms were – ‘queen’, ‘knight’, ‘king’ and ‘page ’. We were on the royalty floor. Some others were not so lucky, they were in rooms called ‘forbidden pleasure’, ‘jewel thief’, ‘seduction’, ‘prime suspect’. I kid you not!

The rooms themselves are another story. Fuck palace bordello type furnishings and over the top tapestries and suede curtains. Some of the rooms were tiny and some were mind bogglingly huge. It was a place with no rules, but very simply said – ‘want place to fuck, get a room’. Oh the joy that was Hamilton Hotel.

I think Panchsheel Park then winds its way into Malviya Nagar which has this terrible market but which became our life and blood. In a place like Delhi where there are awesome places to buy clothes and jewellery we were stuck buying all our stuff from Malviya market because it was next door and we never had time to go anywhere else. Though in my later trips to Delhi visiting People Tree, The shop and Janpath have become like religious excursions.

We were shooting in March and I remember suddenly getting up one morning to a hailstorm, and since I was in the casting department and we didn’t really have to go on shoot, me and my then casting partner (an eccentric artist with an obsession for everything French, jazz and vintage) sat in his cozy room ‘queen’, sipping beers from our well stocked mini fridge, listening to a new French saxophonist called Corine and watching the little white pellets hit persuasively against the window pane. Later that evening as the weary crew came back wet, soggy and badly in need of a drink from a road shoot, eccentric partner and I were suitably sozzled, but still agreed to a night out. We went to some really seedy place near buzz, I forget the name. But that didn’t matter. There was alcohol and great company and for me that brilliant sexual tension in the air, the kind that makes you remember a moment, right when you’re in the middle of it. Tense yet immensely pleasurable.

This time in Delhi I know I won’t be so lucky. In a pre paid cab from the airport to Debs place in kalkaji last night, my heart was in my throat as the driver suddenly stopped at a petrol bunk and two men climbed into the cab, along for the ride. I stayed with debs on the phone all the way to her place, almost in tears, petrified and imagining gruesome rape scenes flashing before my eyes like a bad powerpoint ppt. Also this time I go on shoot as someone senior. Representing my company. Demanding importance and having to very stubbornly exert my authority. And dude, no one finds that kind of attitude hot. So here I am, currently in Manali for three days. Its – 11 degrees outside and oh yes, it just started snowing again. I thought my nose would fall off today as I drove to location. I don’t think I’ve ever been this cold in my life. Also I saw SNOW for the FIRST time!!! YAY! I kept imagining that it would feel like the frosty icicles in my never defrosted fridge and was instead pleasantly surprised to touch cotton candy like poofy stuff! I know it’s pathetic that I’m 25 and seeing snow for the first time but dude you should have seen me stop the car on the drive from Kulu to Manali when I spotted the first patch of snow and jump on it. The driver was embarrassed enough to think of driving off without me.

But I look forward to my month long stay at the capital. I really don’t know anyone apart from D and R who are these famous NDTV anchors and will be very busy, so I’ve come stocked with DVD’s and a list of places to shop and things to site see like the qutub minar etc and of course, yeah I think I have some work to do as well…. 


Anonymous said...

yowzaa!! you should have got out of the cab babe!! too dangerous! next time dont hesitate!

Bombay Lover said...

what sacriledge...writing an ode to delhi and all..

Your sister said...

Try Googling 'Hamilton Hotel panchsheel park' and check out the 5th/6th result!

And yes. Delhi doesn't deserve an ode! Whatever happened to your first lurve - Bombay?

Zaphod said...

Thanks for writing about those bits of Delhi...I grew up there and you were right on the mark about that long winding road that goes past Malviya Nagar, that's where I live, NOT in the market but in Shivalik which is on the other side of the road...ah well, I hope to see more of the city...

Kismet said...

been here for some time.. never really thought of Delhi deserving and ode .. an 'odious' maybe but not an ode..

Manali however .. the snow-capped peaks, far pavilion prose etc etc .. very ode-worthy..

Pinochyo said...

Ah, I know how it is when you lead a warm-hot southie existence for the first 20X years and then suddenly get hit by those crazy mountains and the snow at Manali( Did it a coupla months back)Mind bloody blowing, I say..

Whatcha smokin..huh?:-P

Anonymous said...

Whas iz theeze mizz coo? chumma senti you're getting abt certain boy from pasht ah? isnt he like 22 now? hahah. but Hamilton oh hamilton! whatte time it waz!

chitgo said...

a bangalore girl who's lived in mumbai writing an ode to DELHI!

attention all shoppers: pigs are now flying in aisle 3!!!

woooooohooo..rocking post. Being a pakka dilliwala i am most impressed with your efforts if not your geographical pinpointedness. would you believe it- sam, raghav and a couple of other guys came to delhi for an event last week and take a wild guess where they were staying :D. i think they were in the porn star rooms though.

and screw you for not calling me whilst you were here. so much for we will keep in touch and shit.


Coo said...

anon 1 - yes yes i will next time!

bombay lover - um lowe i say, it was lowe of a man that made me lowe this city!

sistah T - haha nice nice. famous i am now!

Zaphod - oh finally a dilliwalla!!and you should drop by Hamilton if you live so close to it, i guarantee a site seeing trip with many funs!

Kismet - odious huh? you should meet my sister. she shares your distaste and ran out of delhi within 6 months of living in it. and manali would have been ode worthy if i my fingers werent frozen all the time..

Pinochyo- oh what smoking.. 4 feet of snow, a blizzard (and i was stuck under an azbestos sheet mind you!), avalanches, the works! the room heaters were what made us high.

Anon - oh yes he is um.. 22 now i think

CHitgo - I called you and we are meeting so there!

Pinochyo said...

:-)Next time try 40-bucks-a-plate maggi at Rohtang..It's the best maggi Ive ever had, I tell you...aND After 10 years of hostel/ living alone, I'm a world authority on Cordon Bleu Maggi Cooking.Also try taking Picture sitting on a Yak.Too cool..

Soon bombay will start seeing thinks! Its fucking cold!!

Indian Rose Fashionista said...

Interesting blog you have, and i've really enjoyed reading the posts so far.

I only have one need to blog more!

Is it ok if i add you to my blogroll?